The NIT’s postseason tournament used to be a major event and the go-to championship for aspiring teams. These days, it plays second fiddle to the “Big Dance” that is the NCAA Tournament, with many viewing an invitation to the NIT as nothing more than a consolation prize or, possibly, a disappointing end to an otherwise successful season.
The NIT Season Tip-Off was once a hotly-contested tournament with coaches jumping at the opportunity for their team to possibly play at the historic Madison Square Garden. According to a report, that tournament’s fate appears to be cemented — the NIT, as it once was, is dead.
Once a sixteen team championship format, recent years have seen the number of quality teams interested in the in-season NIT diminish and the NCAA having trouble filling the slots thus ultimately selecting DII teams to fill out the bracket.
That format has been ditched, and the four highest seeds will now play for the championship at Madison Square Garden.
The bottom four teams are left with road games at one of the top four seeds before they all head to NYC for Thanksgiving weekend. Saint Joseph’s will visit Gonzaga, Western Kentucky will head west to Minnesota, Stony Brook will travel down to Georgia and LIU will trek across the East River to take on St. John’s.
The semifinals are set for November 26th, with Georgia and Gonzaga facing off in one game and St. John’s and Minnesota meeting in the other. The 27th sees Saint Joseph’s take on Western Kentucky, while state-mates LIU and Stony Brook are scheduled in the other game. November 28th would see the championship and consolation games determined by the outcomes of the Georgia/Gonzaga and St. John’s/Minnesota.
What does this all mean?
Well, as said, the NIT Season Tip-Off is dead as it has been known for a long, long time.
Gone is the championship format and in its place is a four team tournament with a few other games sprinkled about. And according to the same report the NCAA is looking to find DII teams to make a fourth game for Saint Joseph’s, Western Kentucky, Stony Brook, and LIU that would have been guaranteed in the old sixteen team format. The source, per the report, says that not all these teams are interested in a game with a DII school.
We are interested to see if Saint Joseph’s plays a DII school selected by the NCAA or if it finds another school for a regular season, non-NIT, game.